Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week of October 17

We still need a PTO parent rep for the 4/5 Homeroom!

4th Grade Language Arts

Spelling: Most students moved up a level either last week or will begin a new level tomorrow. Because Friday is a homeroom day, I am moving the spelling test from Fridays to Thursdays. 

Grammar: We had a quiz on sentence structure and began working on forming plurals.

Writing: I am handing back the students essays on Tolliver's Secret, and they will use these along with my edits and comments to write their next essay, which will be on the novel of their choice. The emphasis on the first composition was organization. Students will continue to develop strength in this area, but I will also be teaching and assessing paragraph development. We are beginning this project Monday.

Reading: Because I had to return the copies of Carry on, Mr. Bowditch to the IMC, we used a strategy called "jigsaw" to create a synopsis of the remainder of the book. Each student took a chapter and summarized the events. I am compiling them into one document, crediting students with their piece of the puzzle. Next week we will be using listening stations with two audio books:  Blood on the River, a story about Jamestown, and Stowaway. Both are historical novels about colonial America.

Poetry: The students are practicing cursive writing by copying poems into their journals and writing reflections after having discussed the poems and their images in class. Reading poetry requires different reading strategies, primarily an understanding of figurative language. The kids are also memorizing and presenting the poems, which have so far included Tennyson's "The Eagle," and Sandburg's "Fog."

Homework: This week we will focus on possessives but will cycle back through sentence structure and plurals as well. 

4/5 Blend

French: The students loved the video "L'Appartement de Joanna," which is giving them the opportunity to pick up the pace in their speaking. There is also an online activity which requires them to fill in missing words.  I held off on the verb quiz because conjugating is sinking in for some students more easily than for others. Memorizing is definitely the easier half of the battle! 

Social Studies: We had a quiz on Friday covering the struggles faced by the Continental Army and comparing them with those faced by the British. Students were also asked to find examples of factual information from the Social Studies text that was also presented in two historical novels, Tolliver's Secret and The Fighting Ground. We will continue discussing both genres as sources of information and understanding and will add primary source documents this week.

Science: We will start a science unit in November. This will be in French. 

Art: On Friday, I will teach the students some cross-stitch techniques and we will move from plastic canvas to burlap.

P.E. We talk a 30 minute walk on Thursday, with students paired up with somebody who is not in their grade. Going up and down the neighborhood hills and focusing on one new classmate went over well, and we will have a class meeting Monday to come up with different ways to focus our Class Walks, which I would like to do once a week. The kids have promised to teach me some of their games from P.E. so that we can also get into the gym once a week. Music/ukuleles/singing will always on Friday.

IMHO: As I sit here typing, I can't help but reflect on the "largesse," of what we're trying to squeeze into each week of teaching.  I love my work, can't imagine doing anything else,  but the effects of the budget reduction are a reality for all teachers. With respect to our particular program:

Changing math to an English program addresses one set of issues but brings a different set before us.

4th and 5th graders are quickly developing their abilities to think and write abstractly. Science and social studies (content areas) require increasingly sophisticated reasoning and thinking strategies. French adds another layer to the learning process.

French needs explicit, direct instruction in order for the students to be able to function in academic areas.

There is no P.E. program, and there is no music program.

And all of a sudden, it's Friday, and I can't believe the week has gone by. I reflect on the "aha" moments, and the lessons  that worked, and the lessons that didn't work for everybody, and revisit what I even mean by "worked," and if I ever really know what sticks, what sticks but doesn't show- yet,  try to prioritize for the next week, and then drive home, grateful for the authentic relationships I have with my students, and acknowledgment of the fact that they didn't ask for budget cuts, either.

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Charlemagne 4th and 5th Grade

This is an informational blog for parents of students in my 4th and 5th grades classes at Charlemagne French Immersion School. Enjoy!